We are a relatively new employer and are in the process of setting up the employee manual and all policies. Is there a place I can go to find the labor requirements in Florida. I am particularly interested in knowing how much sick time we should be granting to our employees, by law. Many thanks, Diane
Unfortuantely, there is no one centralized online source for information on all the laws that apply to a Florida employer. That is why we offer this service. There is a wealth of information on federal laws at www.dol.gov and www.eeoc.gov. However, Florida provides very little information for employers online, except for the state minimum wage.
SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, sells textbook-style guides to Florida employment law and to federal employment laws. Both federal and state laws apply. When the two do not agree, the employee is entitled to coverage under whichever law provides greater benefit to the employee.
There is no Florida or federal law that requires an employer to grant paid sick leave to employees. (Such a federal law has been debated several times but has not yet passed.) However, be aware that under the federal FLSA, if you do not have a bona fide paid sick leave program, salaried exempt employees must be paid for all sick time. (If you do not offer paid sick leave, you need not pay hourly employees when they are sick.)
Most employers give workers 3 to 7 paid sick days per year, with 5 being average.
As an employer, you set the standard for attendance as long as it is consistent. Many employers would consider 3 or more absences within 30 days excessive absenteeism and would discipline the employee, even if the employee was genuinely ill. Other employers would only discipline an employee after they used up all the annual sick days, regardless of the time period. You do not have to print this standard in your employee handbook, but you should have an objective number of absences in mind, and consistently enforce this policy. If you allow one employe to be absent 10 times without repercussions, while another is disciplined after being absent 3 times, that may very well be illegal discrimination based on sex, age, race, color, national ancestry, religion, etc. even if it was not your intention to discriminate.
However, If you have 50 or more workers within 75 miles, you must offer an employee with a serious health condition up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected FMLA leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. You cannot discipline an employee for absences that are covered by FMLA.
There is no federal or Florida law that you must offer paid benefits such as paid short term disability, job protection or continuation of group medical insurance for employees not covered by FMLA who must take several weeks off due to a heart attack, stroke, cancer, etc. However, if you do offer these benefits for medical disability, under the federal PDA or Pregnancy Discrimination Act you must also offer them to employees on pregnancy disability or childbirth disability.
You did not ask, but if you are choosing a group insurance policy it is wise to include the option of offering short term disability insurance, even if it is at a higher cost. Most Americans simply do not have the savings to cover an unpaid absence from work of 4 weeks or longer, and Florida, like most states, does not offer short term disability.
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